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I hate my garden and I've no idea how to make it nice

(20 Posts)
tabbycat7 Mon 01-Aug-11 20:19:46

It's so horrible it actually makes me cry. It's tiny and was very overgrown, so we got a brown bin and started hacking away at it. For a little while it was starting to look nice again, all green and bushy, but we'd decided we needed the room for the boys (they're 5, 3 and 1), so we got my folks up and they've zapped it. The leafiness was provided by several ridiculously huge buddleias but now they are no longer there and I miss them. They were too big and wild and I don't have time to maintain a garden, even a tiny one, but i hate seeing fence and buddleia stumps. We'd planned to get the boys a big climbing frame but I don't think we can afford to as we are skint sad . PLease help me. How can I make it look nice without having to spend too much? The boys have an area round the side to ride their bikes, so I want this bit to be child friendly but interesting too. I've no idea where to start so any ideas at all will be gratefully received. Thanks.

Photos here

Debs75 Mon 01-Aug-11 20:27:43

that is 1 crazy garden.
Do you really want all the different pavers? If not then I would get rid of them and scab the whole garden back so you can see what you have got there. Dig up the huge roots so you have a level area.
Then i would put things back in, put the pavers and gravel where you want them and grass and flower inbetween. If you miss the big bushes then put some new ones in.
You ideally want somewhere nice to sit and enjoy the sunshine and room for ds's to play, and something low maintenance.

Good luck

Debs75 Mon 01-Aug-11 20:28:24

If you don't like bare fence try a climbing flower or be bold and paint the fences

thisisyesterday Mon 01-Aug-11 20:33:09

to make it nice i think you need to clear it completely. keep any of the paved areas you like, but get rid of the rest.
I would remove the small square slabs with the pot in the middle for instance... that should be easy to take up.

It's very hard on a low budget, but if you can strip it all right back, prep the ground and seed it you'll at least be starting with a reasonable lawn which will help.

Then I would just plant some climbers along the fence, or some smaller shrubs that don't need anything doing to them but will brighten it up a bit. stick some bulbs in that will just come up each spring, and then all you need to do is weed.

get some willow fence panels or something to hide the big green tank?

look on ebay for climbing frames... i am watching out atm and seen a fair few of the metal TP/ELC ones go for under £60

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 02-Aug-11 12:16:35

You may find your buddleias return. They're tough things buddleias.... grow in the nicks in railway arches etc. smile Otherwise, for gardening on the cheap what you need are some friends with big gardens who are happy to divide some plants and give you a clump or take cuttings. My DM has populated her entire garden that way, rescuing plants from derelict buildings, stealiing seed heads from parks... she should write a book called 'Gardening for Misers', she really should.

Other cheap ways to get plants are to hover round your local DIY shops and garden centres and see if there are any perennial plants or shrubs (easiest to care for) past their best that they're selling off at reduced prices. Usually, when the flowers die off, they want to get shot of them. And, as long as the green part is still healthy-looking and you give them a bit of TLC, they'll give you a good show the following year.

Agree with the bulb suggestion. Round September, supermarkets are usually selling great sacks of daffs for reasonable prices.

tabbycat7 Tue 02-Aug-11 19:29:08

That's all useful advice, thanks smile . I love the bulbs idea and the stealing of seedheads! Any recommendations for plants to hide the fence? Although in the short term painting it green might make it less offensive. The slabs in the middle are not set so I could move those, but the grotty areas near the door and the shed are actually concrete. I tried hitting it with a sledge hammer not long after we moved in and it wouldn't budge, so short of hiring a huge drill and some burly workmen I don't know what to do about it.

I feel more optimistic about the rest of it though. smile

thisisyesterday Tue 02-Aug-11 20:01:10

i'd leave the concrete areas then, as it sounds like it'd be a big job to get it ripped out.
take up the rest of the paving and then either turf or seed the lawn. you want to try and get it as flat as possible, which is difficult and if you have the money i'd recommend paying someone to do it.
we did our front garden and although it looked fairly even it has gradually settled and is now lumpy. looks fine from a distance though and the kids don't really care.

My favourite climbers are jasmines. I have a beautiful one called "fiona sunshine" (i think) and a winter jasmine which is nice for a bit of colour in the winter!

tabbycat7 Wed 03-Aug-11 06:38:14

This what I need! Somebody telling me what to do!!! Should I plant all the stuff by the fence and turn the rest into grass? Is there an inexpensive way of making the concrete nicer? Thanks for your help smile. I'm going to see if there are any jasmines in the parks round here! grin

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Aug-11 06:40:58

Free plants to hide fences..... Ask neighbours with vigorous climbing roses if they will give you some pieces to root as cuttings. If you really want something that will go bonkers and cover everything quickly, Clematis Montana is very effective. Places like Morrisons and Aldi often sell them for £5 or so in the spring.

If you have stubborn areas of concrete, containers are a good way to soften them up. You can plant in anything, really, so long as there are some holes in the bottom for drainage. Saw a particular fine display in a recycling box recently. smile

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 03-Aug-11 06:46:07

How I root a rose cutting...... Take a few fresh-looking green sections of stem about 6" long with some small leaves on them. Rough up the 'root end' of it with scissors/knife a little. Balance the cuttings in the neck of a bottle of water so that the root end is in the water and the top is dry. Leave it like that until you see wispy white roots forming at the base. (Not all cuttings take) Then plant the cutting to a pot of compost, keep moist and look after it indoors until you see fresh leaves forming... then you know it's alive and growing. Plant out the following spring after the frosts have gone.

thisisyesterday Wed 03-Aug-11 19:29:14

i would plant along by the fence yes. gives you colour and interest and hides the fence, and leaves you with a larger area of lawn for the children to play on or have a slide/swing/whatever!

you may be able to dig up some of the plants round the paved area and put them over by the fence? that way you'd open the garden up without having to spend too much on new plants.

the concrete area outside the back door/to the left as you come out, you could keep like that and maybe get a sand/water table or a sandpit to go on it? and some pots of plants around the edge?
ditto by the shed door, a couple of large pots with pretty plants would brighten it up

chixinthestix Wed 03-Aug-11 22:56:15

I wonder if you could make the concrete look a bit better by scraping it off with a spade and trying to get it to a squarish shape (by chipping bits from the edge where nec) so you could use it as a patio area? If you plant something that will overlap the manky edges of it you won't see them and it could look almost deliberate.

I had a crappy concrete pond with a crazy paving path round it which DH and I filled in when we moved in. Its a wierd shape so we hid it by putting table and chairs on top and I planted herbs and lavender all round the edges which smell nice when you brush against them to sit down and hide the odd shape of it. I've grown lavender plants from seed this year and 1 pack of wilco seed (75p ish) has given me about 25 little plants which will be big enough for lovely lavender hedge next summer......

Deciding where you want lawn, loosen up the soil where the ground's bare and planting some grass seed in the gaps will make a real difference quite quickly, especially if you give it a shape and defined edge.

Also second the suggestion for clematis montana - its fast growning and v pretty.

DontAskMeSums Thu 04-Aug-11 10:55:46

Parkers Wholesale catalogue is fab for large (therefore cheap) orders of bulbs, though I would grow on any other plants from them in pots before planting up.

I agree that painting the fence would make a huge difference for relatively little cash (try Wilkinsons as their stuff is cheap).

Freecycle is good for kids garden stuff, especially at the end of summer.

Buddleia are great for kids-facinated by butterflies and they'll probably come back.

Because your needs will change as the kids grow, I'd go for mainly lawn with big tubs (half barrel size) that you can move around. The kids could even have one each for seds/strawberries etc. They don't have to be filled up with soil/compost for annuals/strawbs/lettuce etc as they are shallow rooted. You can fill them half way with polystrene that holds stuff in packing boxes or even stamped on milk cartons. Put the compost on top of that to save cash.

Also, the lovely Chris Beardshaw (georgeous in the flesh - swoon) recommends choosing a shape for the lawn first and the rest fits in around that.

tabbycat7 Thu 04-Aug-11 19:16:50

This is all great, thanks!! I had no idea you could grow lavender from seed, that was something I was considering obtaining from the park! Does the cuttings thing work with other plants too? I'll definately have a look on freecycle for a climbing frame. That guy's fence is gorgeous, I'd love mine to look like that. smile smile smile

BewitchedBotheredandBewildered Thu 25-Aug-11 14:30:57

Maybe you could cover the immoveable concrete with the moveable paving slabs. And definitely replant everything you dig up from the middle.
Good luck!

bumperella Tue 06-Sep-11 14:49:19

Are you set on having a lawn? What about putting weed membrane down and using bark chips on top instead? A shaded lawn on poor soil which has lively children playing on it may not look that great - at least not without you putting in a fair amount of effort. Then you'd need a lwan mower and somewhere to store it....

Lizzabadger Sat 17-Sep-11 18:37:06

For around £150 you could have a professional gardener designer come up with a customised plan for you.

PennyFothaguy Sat 17-Sep-11 18:46:17

What about deckig to cover the hard flooring you can't dig up? We did that over a shed foundation that was concrete and immoveable- I LOVE it. Decked area just outside back doors and at end of garden with grass inbetween, and borders

SparkyUK Sun 18-Sep-11 22:12:54

IS it really only £150 for a customised plan? That seems really inexpensive. Do you just mean to come up with some ideas or to do produce an actual detailed drawing w/ panting plan? (I just ask because we're about to embark and have been given figures signigicantly higher than that!)

singforsupper Mon 19-Sep-11 11:57:29

Hi tabbycat, I can help with your garden - I'm a second year garden design student. I've messaged you with more information.

Sparky, professional designers usually charge 10% of total spend cost. If you want a completely redesigned garden it will cost you upwards of around £8k depending on how expensive your materials are etc.

I would be happy to do a free trial which would cover part of a job if anyone's interested. smile

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